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23 January, 2020 - 22:33 By Kate Sweeney

The eyes have it as Exonate strikes deal with Janssen

Cambridge-based biotech Exonate has entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. 

Exonate will work with Janssen Research & Development, LLC scientists to develop an eye drop treatment for retinal vascular diseases such as wet AMD and DMO by using mRNA targeted therapies. 

Exonate has developed small molecules that inhibit the production of pro-angiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) through the selective inhibition of serine/threonine-protein kinase (SRPK1)-mediated VEGF splicing. The agreement was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

Exonate is a privately held, early stage, biotech company spun out of the University of Nottingham that is focused on alternative splicing of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in ophthalmology. It is based at Duxford.

Exonate’s lead programme is focused on Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO). A consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DMO, is swelling in an area of the retina called the macula and wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (wAMD), which is the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 60 and older. 

The  company is founded on scientific excellence with strong links to Professor David Bates and his lab at Nottingham University specialising in the biology and biochemical pathways of VEGF splice variants.

Exonate has developed small molecules that inhibit production of pro-angiogenic VEGF through selective inhibition of serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (SRPK1)-mediated VEGF splicing. 

These inhibitors have already demonstrated superior efficacy as topical agents in preclinical models of wet AMD. 

Through a Wellcome Trust funded project, Exonate will complete regulatory toxicology and safety pharmacology studies to support an application to the regulatory authorities for clinical evaluation. 

Exonate expects to reach this milestone and enter the clinic in mid-2020.

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